« VorigeDoorgaan »
ture's Priest,' — and even in marriage mere, perhaps the only passage sura celibate of the imagination.
passing those repeated episodes of the So even to Professor Legouis, to first book, which still change forever whom we all owe an unpayable debt, the lives of some kinds of persons. Wordsworth seems touched with the In all the greatest pages the two famous insular hypocrisy when he texts differ little. There are interesting describes the 'growth of a poet's variations, but on the whole the text mind,' and suppresses the love affair, as we have always known it is an imthough its influence on him was enor- provement. There is one exception.
One amorous fever schooled The affair of the stolen boat on his blood and judgment forever, yet Ullswater, — not Esthwaite, as hith
exalted and clarified his whole nature erto supposed, — when the mountains and understanding. His disguised con- rose higher in solemn rebuke the further fession, ‘Vaudracour and Julia,' you he pulled out, is far fuller and better shall think as shambling and dodging on the left-hand page than in the as you please. Whether for art or life, familiar version of 1850. As for The it is a poor-spirited episode anyhow, Prelude as a whole, we would not for
a and you cannot call it good. But one the world have missed the knowledge passage at least, now shown in its of its earlier form. The later, on the original setting, but afterward sepa- whole, is superior; revision has been rated from that text, could have been guided by sound critical judgment; but written only by a man who, through it is the judgment of an older, colder Annette, had known how love comes mind, and the left-hand text restores like double revelation to imaginative to us a thousand fresher and freer minds:
touches on word and phrase. To quote he beheld
these would be a delightful but interA vision, and adored the thing he saw.
minable task. We can take only one Arabian fiction never filled the world
instance, the acute lines about the With half the wonders that were wrought for him. dropping acorn: Earth lived in one great presence of the spring.
.. seeing nought, nought hearing, save At Orléans and Blois in that spring When here and there about the grove of oaks of 1792 there was a revolution in his Where was my bed, an acorn from the trees head and another in his breast. But Fell audibly and with a startling sound. Annette, though she never could have But half seraph, half square-toes, . known it, had a revenge that her good Wordsworth was born. We all susnature would not have desired. When pected that one notorious phrase was Wordsworth comes to that point of the perpetration of the older man autobiography where for the first time returning to many Johnsonian correctihe must tamper awkwardly with the tudes he had rejected in his youth. truth, and practise suppression or Not so. It is a man in the late twenties evasion by narrative both feigned and who can invoke Milton thus: 'O stilted, the latter half of his poem temperate Bard!' Mr. de Selincourt is suffers profound injury. To the end rewarded for a meticulous toil guided there are splendid lines of natural throughout by enlightening insight. description, but they are slender in He has incalculably increased our proportion as argumentative stodgi- understanding and delight in reading ness increases. Never again does he again what is both one of the great touch that wonder of the fifth book, poems and one of the great autobiogthe owl-calling on the shores of Winder- raphies of the world.
BACON AFTER THREE HUNDRED YEARS1
BY HUGH B. C. POLLARD
APRIL marked the tercentenary of gave it a new standing as inductive Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, Vis- logic. He was the first outstanding count St. Albans, 1561-1626. As a intellect in historic times to realize that line in a diary it means little to the the function of science was not to repeat ordinary man; yet if we reflect a mo- the official quips of fossil thought, but ment we find that in celebrating this to experiment, observe, and see what date we are honoring the godfather of caused all sorts of things to happen. all modern science as we know it to- To-day this seems to us a perfectly day. Francis Bacon was an enormous reasonable logical idea which should influence, a Napoleon of the battlefield have occurred to anybody. of intellectual freedom. No man of his We all owe so much to Francis Bacon age presents a greater puzzle to his- that it is with difficulty that we get any torians, and there is a good deal of true picture, not of the pageantry, but excuse for the theorists who hold the of the mentality of his time. wildest beliefs about the Bacon-Shake- It is perhaps best to see Bacon as speare controversy. There was much a man of to-day set by circumstance that was hidden in the man, and the three hundred years before his time. face which Bacon chose to show to the Yet even this device is inadequate, for world was not the whole man. An Francis Bacon had a greater grasp and eminent psychologist has dissected the a deeper knowledge of the spiritual psychical body of Leonardo da Vinci. values than is common among the rare Francis Bacon would be an even better philosophers of his calibre to-day. subject for this kind of post-mortem, It was an unsafe age in England. but it calls for rather more knowledge Rome then stood for foreign dominathan pure psychology and for some tion, for the dead hand of priestcraft little learning in sixteenth-century on all who sought knowledge. Luthermysticism and the political limitations anism was no better, and the extravaof the time.
gances of the Protestant sectaries were Bacon was essentially the first of the just as bad. There is no sanction for moderns. He was an organizer, a com- natural philosophy in either Testapiler, an enormous centripetal force ment, and the inquiring and rational who focused the revolt of the times mind was a dangerous thing for its against the formalized schools of deduc- owner in those not too distant days tive Aristotelian logic. For the un- when the ashes of those martyred by questioned authority and the petrified both sides were barely cold. wisdom of the classics he substituted New ideas were perilous ideas, and the line of thought we still call natural the greater part of Bacon's work had science. He dignified experiment and to be done in secret. In open history he 1 From Discovery (London popular-science
stands out as an eminently sound monthly), May
adviser and a poor politician. He had the unforgivable vice of sincerity of he was obliged to live in retirement on purpose and the colossal hardihood to his estate. Freed of the squalor of polioppose Elizabeth Tudor. It is true that tics, Bacon now came to his real glory. in his Essays he counsels a wise ex- These last six years of his life were the pediency, but a man of his calibre has most important, for he then began to an exacting judge to satisfy. He must publish the thought of years. He had live on honorable terms with himself. published a certain amount before. A balanced attitude was not a road to In 1605 he had issued his Advancement favor in partisan times. In addition, of Learning, a review of the state of he had to counter the jealousy of his knowledge of his time. During his cousins, the Cecils. The support of career he had published various Essays, Essex helped Bacon in his career, and but the work was continually revised the latter has been accused of betraying and added to. Few works have given us his patron. His attitude at the trial of so many common aphorisms as these Essex was harsh, but to a certain extent Essays, and new and larger editions excusable. Essex had not taken Bacon's were printed from time to time. Yet advice, and he had gone far toward these, important as they are from the a state of insurrection which would literary point of view, had not the inhave meant civil war. Bacon was an fluence on history which was exercised autocratic Tory democrat, but not a by his scientific work, the Novum revolutionary.
Organum, the greatest stimulant of the The whole tendency of Francis age ever given to a group of thinkers. Bacon's policy was toward the better- So much for the external side of ment of the condition of the realm and Bacon. Industrious historical emmets the people of the realm as a whole. He can trace the record, and it is a not too urged a wide toleration, not only in scrupulous career, of the external man. matters of religious belief, but in mat- Yet we can ask ourselves, what is there ters touching oppression by the Crown. in this spotted record which stresses the Yet he was no democrat, and believed scientific side of Bacon's life? We see in the divine right of kings. With the him in history as an able, true-serving accession of James I he rose to power. attorney, a courtier, a man circumKnighted in 1604, he became Attorney- stanced by the moral conditions of his General in 1613. He steered a tortuous age. Yet when we turn back to the way through the difficulties of the times, fundamental origins of organized sciand evidently became more expedi- ence in Europe, every road, every line ent' as age withered his idealism. He of research, leads to one centre, Baabandoned the favorite Somerset for con and his disciples, — and there is the rising star of Villiers, and in 1617 no clear path which leads us to the was appointed Keeper of the Privy Seal. individuals who preceded him. A year later he became Lord Chancellor A
It is doubtful if we shall ever know of England, and was raised to the any particular original contributions to peerage as Lord Verulam.
scientific knowledge for which Bacon In 1621 he was at the height of his was responsible. It is better to consider glory, but Parliament, which had been
an enormous concentrating, unconvoked for seven years, was at classifying, and coördinating force. He last summoned, and his enemies at- was the first great editor of Nature to tacked him on charges of bribery arise since classical times, the first Bacon fell, and, though the sentences administrator to conceive of organized of fine and imprisonment were revoked, science working for the good of human
ity in general. His New Atlantis alchemy and algebra, or it was cabalissketches out a model society dominated tic and derived from Hebrew thought. by brains which would function for the We know now that much then atgood of humanity. This book was tributed to the Moslems was the relics published posthumously, yet we have of classical knowledge, and that most the authority of Joseph Glanville, of their work was translated and chaplain to James I, that Bacon did adopted by rabbinical writers. Neveractually found a scientific society of theless, in the days when an accusation some nature.
of heresy was the portal to a painful The enormous scope of his learning death, and to be suspected of knowlat a time when the range of all the edge stirred the jealousy of the official knowledge of the age could be more or priestly trade-union, it is obvious that less grasped by a first-class intellect any search for knowledge required an could be explained if he had not also adequate 'safety first' insurance. To led an active career but had worked as the adepts of the society the rose has a recluse devoting all his time to study. always been more important than the Even granting the man a mental energy cross; yet if they secretly eschewed utterly abnormal, we must, when con- orthodox mass theology and hated sidering the limited, mechanism of the sectarianism, they were no worse than distribution of knowledge and the the modern man of science who imposes slow time factor for the dissemination on himself a Christian rule of life and of thought, look on him, not as an in- finds it not impossible to accept spirdividual, but as the head of a wide- itual values as laws as binding as the spread intelligence service.
laws of science. But in those days they A great many indications point to had to be careful and, above all, secret. Bacon as a leading character in the Any identification of the newly awakRosicrucian Society. His New Atlantis ened desire for knowledge of Nature is modeled on the conceptions of the with any of the new sects would have Rosicrucian Society, and in 1660 was brought the movement into conflict reprinted under the nominal authorship with the powerful political machine of of John Heydon as Voyage to the Land the then reactionary Church. of the Rosicrucians.
The Renaissance set men's minds The Rosicrucian Brotherhood has working; the European Reformation the usual claims of esoteric societies to gave certain countries an advantage in Egyptian origin. Actually it is difficult being able to permit primitive research to trace any sound historical basis work to go on without political interbeyond the latter half of the fifteenth ference. The Rosicrucian fraternity century. It may be looked on as an has never had fixed constitutions, but intelligent society accepting the Chris- has at certain times developed a tian ethic, but equally hostile to the working organization or international political oppressions and corruptions of mechanism. The first published foresthe Catholic Church and to the intel- cence of the society reached its height lectual savagery of Lutheranism. The in the early seventeenth century. probable reason for its insistence on There was a recrudescence of activity in Christianity was that most of the the mid-seventeenth and in the midscientific and philosophic knowledge nineteenth century, and the society outside the sterile bounds of monastic still exists as a nucleus organization. thought was Oriental. It was either It has nothing whatever to do with the from Arabian sources, as in the case of various spurious Rosicrucian organizaVOL. 729 NO. 4277
tions run by the theosophists or char- perimental — what we call to-day the latans, and is still a secret society in scientific point of view. In the same the true sense of the term.
way there were two main schools of Bacon was not only the head of the thought in the Rosicrucian fraternity. society in England, but was in close On the one side were the mystics soaked touch with all Continental chapters as in the search for cabalistic secrets and well. The light of his intellect illu- esoteric mysteries; they wished to minated many centres of thought. keep their knowledge secret. On the Reform was necessary, not only in the other side we find the exotericists, men domain of the Church, but in the of science anxious for demonstrable realms of politics and science as well. knowledge and realizing the need of Bacon and his helpers were all part and publicity. parcel of an organized and inspired A generation passes after Bacon. evolutionary but not revolutionary The gap is filled to a certain extent by movement. Andrea, author of the Robert Fludd, a contemporary, but Chymische Hochzeit Christiani Rosen- solely an exponent of the exoteric side. kreutz, was one of the leaders in the Then comes Robert Boyle, who, largely younger generation of the movement. influenced by Fludd's teachings, About 1614 the Fama Fraternitatis, the founded in 1645 – after the latter's first public communication of the order, death
death — the Invisible College. This appeared. It was anonymous, and ap- scheme was designed to put into pracpealed to the savants and men of tice the idea of a college of scientists as
a science of Europe. Its authorship is still outlined in Bacon's New Atlantis. . in dispute, but it served to bring out The college was to be essentially a into the light of day a movement and secret organization of intellectual peoa widespread system of thought which ple, and was to be, in spite of the turhad been previously secret or so care- moil of the times, above politics and -fully disguised as to be recognizable what was then much the same — varionly by initiates. The wide scope of the ant religious views. The connection profession-of-faith clause in the Fama between Bacon's concept and Boyle's was highly unorthodox. It was too college is evident. In a few years it wide for the Catholics and too wide for became possible to drop the secrecy the Lutherans. It led to wild attack postulated in the idea of the Invisible and equally wild defense and reckless College, and the society became public pamphleteering by both sides, but it as the Gresham College. In 1660 it was good publicity. John Komensky, became the Academy, and in 1662 it alias Comenius, 1592–1671, was was raised by Charles II to its present ceived into the order. Baruch, Spinoza, status as the Royal Society. Descartes, and other great men of the The early detailed history of the seventeenth century, were also powerful Royal Society is not particularly clear, supporters of Rosicrucian thought, but but it is clear that it is in direct connecit is in England that the speculative tion with the exoteric half of Bacon's and philosophical side gave place to original conception. We find in associathe practical result of the restoration tion with it, not only Boyle, but Sir of science and the cult of natural philos- Christopher Wren, Sir Robert Moray, ophy.
Elias Ashmole, and Locke. These are There were two sides to Bacon's the most important names, not only in philosophy: the purely abstract philo- the early Royal Society, but in Eng. sophical view, and the natural or ex- lish Freemasonry as well. Sir Robert